The vote in the Israeli Cabinet wasn't close, 22 in favor and only 3 opposed. While many people believe Regev and Goldwasser to be dead, and information about Israeli Airman Ron Arad sketchy at best (his plane was shot down over Lebanon), it is still a significant step toward peace. The cabinet ministers were influenced by IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, who said: "I am the commander of all the soldiers ... of the living and the dead, and therefore I say to you the deal must be approved."
The deal will take place in four stages:
- first, the signing of the agreement, which should happen in the next two or three days
- next, Hezbollah will hand over a report on efforts to obtain information on missing airman Ron Arad, MIA in Lebanon since 1986. In exchange, Israel will give Hezbollah a report on the fate of four Iranian diplomats kidnapped and murdered during the Lebanon war in the 1980s.
- Stage three requires United Nations hostage negotiator and intelligence expert Gerhard Konrad's approval of the reports. If he approves, Hezbollah will return Goldwasser and Regev - or their remains if they are no longer alive, along with the remains of Israeli soldiers in Lebanon. Israel will return Kuntar to Hezbollah, along with four Hezbollah militants who were captured in the Second Lebanon War and the remains of a few dozen bodies
- Stage four will occur within a month of the exchange, as Israel releases a number of Palestinian prisoners of Israel's choosing.
It matters. It matters for any number of reasons, not the least of which is a step toward normalizing relationships and putting an end to hostilities. It matters, because sworn enemies are talking to each other. It matters, it matters.
Moshe Dayan said: If you want to make peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.